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Vietnam’s development since the early 1990s has given new life to the East Asian export-led growth model. It has sustained a shared GDP growth rate averaging over 6 percent per annum. Between 2000 and 2018, Vietnam’s per capita GDP rose seven-fold and poverty was reduced from 37 percent to less than 2 percent.
Mimicking the most successful East Asian economies, this growth has been spearheaded by exports of manufactured products, with Vietnam diversifying rapidly from light to more complex products aided by foreign investment in medium and high-tech industries. Vietnam has also derived substantial growth impetus from the production and export of agricultural products such as rice, coffee, cashews, and others.
For late starting economies, Vietnam’s experience provides valuable lessons not only on the policy initiatives that can deliver positive results, but also on the inevitable and the potentially avoidable pitfalls that can slow or derail development.